The Western Conference playoff race gets a lot of publicity these days, and for good reason. It's a crumpled up, chaotic mess of good and great teams battling for a few playoff berths.
But don't forget about the Eastern Conference. The picture out east is just as unclear as ever after two Sunday matinee games failed to separate any teams hunting for the wild card spots.
For some, the high-scoring affair in Washington was exciting. In reality, it was just the result of awful goaltending and a handful of missed defensive assignments. But mistakes afford opportunity to take advantage, and Washington ultimately capitalized (see what I did there?).
As for Winnipeg, their renaissance continued in earnest at the Bell Centre. The Jets have now won eight of the ten games Paul Maurice has manned the bench for so far, making the Central Division battle even more interesting. Montreal is in danger of relinquishing their grip on the top wild card spot after yet another loss.
All the NHL Scores
Jets 2, Canadiens 1
On Sunday we asked you five burning questions about the day's games. These are your cool, soothing answers.
1. How does Sunday's games impact theCard race in the East?
The Red Wings should be happy they earned at least a point in a miserable defensive performance, but they have to be kicking themselves for letting such an important game slip away. The Red Wings jumped ahead of Philadelphia into the final wild card spot, but Washington trails by a single point and has played one more game than Detroit. That extra point conceded to the Capitals could come back to haunt the Wings. Meanwhile, Montreal held steady in the first wild card spot despite losing to Winnipeg.
2. Can thefinally pull themselves together?
Let's be honest: Neither the Red Wings or Capitals played very well defensively on Sunday. But Washington showed why they shouldn't be counted out come playoff time with timely depth scoring. Alex Ovechkin might've scored the game winner, but Joel Ward and Jason Chimera proved once again why they're counted on so heavily in key moments. All in all, the Capitals played well enough to win most nights.
3. Can Mark Scheifele continue collecting points?
Not quite. Aside from a few chances early on, Scheifele was nonexistent for most of the game.
4. Speaking of hot streaks, can Detroit slow down?
Not when it mattered most. Ovechkin didn't factor in any of Washington's first five goals, but he hammered the final nail in the Wings' coffin during a 4-on-3 power play chance in overtime.
5. Will a line change continue paying dividends for Montreal?
The Brian Gionta/Tomas Plekanec/Danny Briere line was responsible for Montreal's only goal on Sunday. The Canadiens aren't playing well, so coach Michel Therrien should lean on them going forward.
The one play or moment from Saturday that is going to be making headlines over the next couple of days.
With Red Wings forward Johan Franzen out indefinitely with a concussion, a forward position opened up on Sweden's Winter Olympics roster. Should they bring Franzen's teammate, Gustav Nyquist? Nyquist scored a hat trick on Sunday and has 13 goals and 24 points in his last 24 games. Ignoring that kind of hot streak would be a mistake, don't you think?
Stat of the Day
Ovechkin leads the Capitals with 39 goals. Joel Ward has the second-most with 17 goals. That's a 22-goal difference, by far the most of any team in the NHL.
Post to Post
- Leafs GM Dave Nonis threatened to shake up his locker room before Toronto's recent win streak.
- The Dallas Stars have a chance at the playoff thanks to a weak strength of schedule.
- Finally, the staff at Copper & Blue and their readers disagree on Craig MacTavish.